A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


No. 88
Daily Report on MORALE
Thursday, 29th August, 1940

There is no noticeable decline in morale although in London particularly there is some depression mainly brought about by lack of sleep. At the same time more people are taking active steps to make their shelters into sleeping places, and when this is done they are calmer and more cheerful. There is a slight increase in the number of people taking shelter and a considerable proportion spent the whole of last night's warning period in public or private shelters.

There is general confidence in Civil Defence Services although there is no diminution in public uneasiness about sirens (see over).

There is a noticeable increase, particularly in the South, in the number of people who say they expect a gas attack. A special study made recently showed that approximately 10% of the population of the areas investigated expected an invasion, about 10% expected that the Germans would, as an alternative, intensify air-raids over this country and 4% thought there would be gas attacks. The percentage of those carrying gas masks, however, shows little change, although more people carry them in a place which has recently been bombed.

Exaggerated stories of damage and casualties appear to have increased slightly.

In heavily raided places there is bewilderment and some anger at official descriptions of the damage.

Interest in the international situation is much less: there is practically no general interest in the state of affairs in the Balkans.




29.8.40 .

The siren policy is still causing widespread and adverse criticism. In Manchester last night, the “Raiders Passed” was sounded long before bombing had ceased, whereas the night before bombs did not begin to drop until after the signal. The particularly long periods during which Norwich has been under red warnings, interrupted by brief intervals of “Raiders Passed” causes much comment and the absence of sirens when bombs have fallen in Cambridge is also criticised. Opinion is expressed on all sides in the Southern area that warnings are inadequate, although the need for a minimum number is realised.

2. NORTH-EASTERN (Leeds). Morale is high, particularly where damage is slight, but in some parts of the region there is a feeling that worse damage cannot be prevented. There is widespread appreciation at the decision of the Regional Commissioner to sound the local “Raiders Passed” when bombs have been dropped with no warning preceding. Exaggerated rumours of casualties are quickly spread. Complaints against the proposed resumption of racing continue to be made. In intellectual circles there is a belief that a clear post-war policy would incline America and Russia more to our war effort.

4. EASTERN (Cambridge). Warnings are being taken calmly and there is evidence that private shelters are being used rather than public shelters. Some confusion exists over transport arrangements, as in some areas buses do not run during the alarm. Many sleep regularly in shelters. In view of raid warnings just before the end of school hours, some schools are reported to advocate a daily session from 9 to 1 p.m.

6. SOUTHERN (Reading) Stories of attacks on Birmingham, Coventry and Portsmouth cause some nervousness as do the repercussions of the sporadic bombings to which the region has been subjected. Reports from Newbury state that labourers employed on bombed aerodromes begin to show nervousness and in Oxford a number of work-people have left their jobs in a locality which has been bombed. Generally speaking, morale appears to be best in those places which have been heavily bombed.

8. WALES (Cardiff). It is becoming known that a large number of bombs dropped at night fall in open spaces wide of any objective, and at the same time the official bulletins of our night raids on Germany are believed. The broadcast by the Minister of Pensions on compensation was much appreciated. There is a recurrence of complaints of the lack of Welsh programmes. Agreement is being reached by mutual arrangement in the mining industry on the question of lost time due to raids. Many civilians are confident of their ability to distinguish the German from the British engine beat. The attacks on Italy and Libya cause great satisfaction.

10. NORTH-WESTERN (Manchester). A private lookout system is growing as a result of the warning problem. The fact that bombers found targets on a dark night with low clouds, and that there appears no way of counteracting prolonged raids by single machines is much commented on. There is a demand for more localisation of warnings.

12. SOUTH-EASTERN (Tunbridge Wells). Air raids in this region are now frequently followed by the rumour that gas has been used; this may be due to respirator drills by civil defence personnel. Shopkeepers report that daylight raids at lunch-time or after have caused women to shop earlier in the morning. Anxiety is still being caused through lack of news of men reported missing after Dunkirk. There is grumbling over the time taken for special army allowances for high rent and medical fees to come through.


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